The NFL is apparently planning on stadiums not being full this year due to COVID-19, and they’ve already found a way to bring some extra money out of it.
According to Ben Fischer of Sports Business Journal, the NFL will allow teams to sell camera-visible signage to local sponsors this year, which will be displayed on tarps placed on the rows of fan seating that are closest to the field of play. The hope is this will reduce fan contact with players and coaches on the field.
Under a plan shared with team presidents on Tuesday, the first six to eight rows of seating in every stadium — including on-field suites — will be off limits to fans this season. That move is officially to protect players, coaches and team staff from coronavirus exposure, but it would also free up that space to become lucrative sponsorship assets.
Sources said those seats will be covered by tarps that could include sponsor logos, similar to how EPL teams repurposed empty seating sections for ads during its return to play last week. The plan will be presented to owners at a meeting tomorrow, and they are not expected to oppose it. An NFL spokesman did not reply to a request for comment.
We probably shouldn’t expect to see fans allowed to be as close to the field of play this year as they normally would, so sports teams and leagues will likely look for unique ways to display something else in the first several rows of seating.
If you’ve followed the Korean Baseball League (because who hasn’t), they’ve actually placed fake fans in the stands closest to the field of play.
Now, the NFL has its own plan that could actually help them bring in the lost revenue they’ll suffer from not being able to sell those tickets to fans.